Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings doped with bioactive elements of silver (Ag) and copper (Cu) have been receiving increasing attention in the last decade, particularly in the last 5 years, due to their potential to offer a combination of enhanced antimicrobial and mechanical performance. These multi-functional bioactive DLC coatings offer great potential to impart the next generation of load-bearing medical implants with improved wear resistance and strong potency against microbial infections. This review begins with an overview of the status and issues with current total joint implant materials and the state-of-the art in DLC coatings and their application to medical implants. A detailed discussion of recent advances in wear resistant bioactive DLC coatings is then presented with a focus on doping the DLC matrix with controlled quantities of Ag and Cu elements. It is shown that both Ag and Cu doping can impart strong antimicrobial potency against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, but this is always accompanied so far by a reduction in mechanical performance of the DLC coating matrix. The article concludes with discussion of potential synthesis methods to accurately control bioactive element doping without jeopardising mechanical properties and gives an outlook to the potential long-term impact of developing a superior multifunctional bioactive DLC coating on implant device performance and patient health and wellbeing. Statement of significance: Multi-functional diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings doped with bioactive elements of silver (Ag) and copper (Cu) offer great potential to impart the next generation of load-bearing medical implants with improved wear resistance and strong potency against microbial infections. This article provides a critical review of the state-of-the-art in Ag and Cu doped DLC coatings, beginning with an overview of the current applications of DLC coatings in implant technology followed by a detailed discussion of Ag/Cu doped DLC coatings with particular focus on the relationship between their mechanical and antimicrobial performance. Finally, it ends with a discussion on the potential long-term impact of developing a truly multifunctional ultra-hard wearing bioactive DLC coating to extend the lifetime of total joint implants.